By Matthew Lunn, Executive Officer, Nursery & Garden Industry Western Australia (NGIWA)
With the count down to the Perth Garden Festival now truly here, industry is frantically working hard to make this event another success in its long, 49-year history. However, there is a real concern that plants maybe in short supply for this event.
As we have seen over the past few years and certainly since COVID, gardening is on the rise, with many newbies aiming to turn their fingers green. With indoor plants having been the focus, we are now seeing a considerable shift in extending this interest to the outdoors with consumers growing a wider variety of ornamental and native species which can be found in our garden centres and nurseries.
The fallout of course from this has been the higher requirement from wholesale nurseries to produce more plants and as featured on Perth CH9 News recently, native plants in particular seem to be gaining popularity and are walking out of stores as soon as they have been priced for sale.
Of course, public demand is only part of this equation. After discussions with members of NGIWA, growers are supporting a variety of projects across Western Australia on top of the already hectic retail demand. State and local government greening programs are on the rise and with major state government infrastructure programs like Metronet, main roads and carbon farming initiatives, plants are becoming like gold dust and nurseries are faced with the possibility of expansion.
However, talking to some growers, many who are family operated, they do not see this as viable. With some existing nurseries built over the past 30-40 years and the high demands by authorities to have environmentally sustainable business premises, increasing the production area isn’t quite as simple as it may seem. On top of this, with a depleting workforce entering the nursery industry and rising bank fees, sinking large sums of money into a nursery seems too much of a gamble.
The Perth Garden Festival will of course go ahead even if plants are in short supply. With bumper crowds expected because of the unusual spring date (traditionally held in April) if anything, the festival will once again be a beacon for all garden lovers and will certainly encourage a few fingers to turn green.